Waddle like a Duck

By Srila Jiva Goswami dasa

In the late nineties, I started coming back to The Temple. I was living in Wheeling. I came to the Temple every morning, took the Association of The Devotees, participated at Mongol Aortik, chanted 16 Rounds and Guyatri, and polished it off by taking morning Prasadama with the Devotees.

I posted vignettes like this one on the wall in the Prasadama Hall. Devotees seemed to enjoy that.

I had a great time. I came every day. I tried to be first in the Temple. Nityo was sometimes there when I knocked and came in. If one morning, Nityo Prabhu was there before me, I’d come in earlier the next. I would not be consistently beat at being first in the Temple, for I had nothing else to do.

Then for the first half hour or so, Nityo and I would be the only guys chanting in the Temple.

This is a recollection of mystic potencies I saw demonstrated by Nityo on those mornings and the fumbling bumbling efforts of Your correspondent. Readers should be warned or advised that what I see is patently warped, as I am a blind person. That is, my vision is less that 20/200 and not correctable with lenses.

I’d been friends with Nityo since the late ‘70’s, only we’d never spoken to each other but in Krsna Conscious ways about Krsna Conscious things. Seeing Nityo there every morning, I wanted more in the way of contact with him. I came in one morning, and Nityo was sitting already, and chanting diligently.

Instead of making obeisances from across the Temple, I went right up to him, and made obeisances, dundavats, in very close proximity. In fact, I used the top of my head to push Nityo across the floor … the way a trained seal pushes a rubber ball. I suppose I was undulating like a snake. “Control yourself, Jiva,” Nityo said mildly enough, down to me. He continued chanting.

“I am controlling myself,” I replied up at him. I think Nityo understood. I wanted contact. Later, after the morning program, Nityo asked me to meet him in the hall. There he asked me if I would massage his shoulders.

Of course I would. But there was a problem: Nityo, although diminutive and compact, was, I discovered, built like a bull and his body seemed made of stone. Aravinda was like that too, I recall. Aravinda Prabhu, of the Gardening Department, with his Clark Kent looking glasses and calm mild manner would surprise you if you happened to bump into him. His body had all the give of a garage wall.

“What’s the matter?” such Devotees often seemed to call down to me as I bounced off or waddled away.

Although I’ve always been more and less drastically built like an office worker I am 6’4″, with concomitant hand and finger size and strength. Still, it seemed I could barely get my fingers over Nityo’s broad unyielding shoulders. I gave it a shot though.

“Harder,” he said.

I squeezed harder. Nothing seemed to be happening. It was to me like trying to compress a piece of wood. “Harder,” Nityo called back to me. I squeezed as hard as I could then. My fingers might as well have been dandelion fluff. “More,” Nityo instructed. I took a deep breath, flexed my knees and just squeezed with all my might. Anyone else would have been yelping. I felt absolutely no give in Nityo’s broad stone like shoulders. I was actually beginning to get winded.

“Harder,” Nityo demanded.

I just kept on as much as I could until I was exhausted. At no time did I perceive any effect at all, other than the fact that I was getting contact, which is, after all, what I actually wanted.

Nityo asked for that shoulder massage a few more times, and each time it was the same. “Harder,” he’d be saying, while nothing seemed to be happening and I became exhausted.

“These massages are kind of wearing me out,” I warbled one morning. “Pshew!” If I made the mistake of wiping my brow with my sleeve, worker in the sun style, I’d get New Vrindabana Tilak on the householder white sleeve of my Kurta.

“O.K.,” Nityo answered. “I won’t ask you any more.”

“Nityo,” I said, “I think sometimes I see you in two or three places at the same time.” I’d noticed this phenomenon more than once around The Farm. We were all usually too busy to talk about such things, but out there among the halls and rooms we’d built, with Nityo Dita Prabhu in the late ‘90s, suddenly it seemed as good a time as any.

“What do you mean?”

“I have seen you in the Pujari Room, then stopped by the Deity’s Dressing Room and seen you there too,” I said.

Nityo didn’t respond at first.

“Then after seeing you in both places, I’ve come into the Temple and seen you here too.”

Nityo did not smile. He shrugged his shoulders and said, “If that’s what you think you are seeing, than go for it,” he responded.

But that’s nothing, Dear Reader. Listen to this:

If I was first in the Temple, and busy chanting Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare, and Nityo came in after me, when he made obeisances at the Vyasasana, what I saw was him jump into the air, at about waist height, parallel to the ground, and then float to the floor, wafting gently from side to side as he descended, horizontally, with his hands folded and his lips moving in whiisperment of Prayers of Obeisances and Greeting, to the Deities, to Krsna, to Guru, to The Assembled Devotees, who are everywhere at all times. He’d just jump, and then glide down though the air like a leaf or a feather.

He did not undulate on the floor like a snake, as I had. His movements did not seem self conscious, the way mine, which spring from a frog-like muddy well, most probably seem to others.

He did not seem particularly aware of this feat. I never mentioned it to him. I saw this happen with no one else, though of course in my time I’ve seen lots of Devotees make obeisances at the Vyasasana.

That was levitating. Another time, there was a bulb out in the ceiling. It was just me and Nityo in the Temple. Nityo got a tall ladder and set it up. He took a bulb and ascended. Dear reader, believe me, it seems incredible, but Nityo went up the ladder, simply by positioning himself at the bottom and apparently willing it so. He did not climb. There was none of the churning and fumbling you see about me, even on so much as a flight of stairs.

No. Nityo rose like mercury in a thermometer, only faster. It was as if Nityo seized the frame of the ladder, looked up where he wanted to go, and soared. If anything, the ladder was simply a guide, almost like an astronaut’s space tether. Near the ceiling, Nityo screwed in the bulb. Then he returned to the floor at moderate speed, but again, without using the rungs or any of the ordinary gravity related fundamentals of what I now see as “The Machine Known to us as ‘Ladder.’”

I was also well situated then, sitting and chanting Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare in the Hare Krsna Temple. Hare Rama.

There are two characteristics I’ve observed in common with the mystic potencies I’ve seen Devotees manifest over the years. One, the Devotee seems unaware of anything particularly mystic at the time, and two, the manifestation always has to do with Krsna’s Service.

That, like every blessed thing else the Devotees do in the mood of Devotional Service, is amazing and admirable to me.

Some say truly how we judge a tree by Her Fruit. More likely heard here is “If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck …” For years, with my only qualification being “I like you,” Devotees, by Krsna’s Mercy, have accepted me, and engaged me in actual Devotional Service while in Truth, I am certainly one of and strongly attached to the, field of the waddling ducks.

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